By Michael Wood
Last updated 2011-02-17
Pepper, or 'Black Gold' as it was known, was exported from this coastal city to Greece as far back as the fourth century BC, but the real flood of trade began in the first century AD. Recipes from rich Roman households testify to the popularity of the spice in ancient Rome. At its peak the Romans were sending 120 ships-a-year from Egypt to trade with India and bring back enormous quantities of pepper.
The trade along this spice route was one of the most influential commercial activities in history and directly affected the course of world events. The colonisation of the Americas as well as the Indian subcontinent were largely a result of European attempts to find sea routes to the East. Columbus' desire to find an Atlantic sea route to the East Indies led him to the Americas. While the British East India Company, formed in 1600 to compete with the Dutch spice trade, resulted in the colonisation of the Indian subcontinent.
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